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Criminal capital and the transition to adulthood

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Life course criminology is characterized by a two-pronged approach to research. The first branch emphasizes social integration and involvement with pro-social institutions as turning points in the criminal career. The

Life course criminology is characterized by a two-pronged approach to research. The first branch emphasizes social integration and involvement with pro-social institutions as turning points in the criminal career. The second branch of this work assesses how access to the institutions that facilitate social integration are conditioned by factors such as involvement in the criminal justice system. Theories of capital are chiefly concerned with social integration and the continuity of conventionality, conformity, and prosperity offered through social ties and social networks. Absent from life course criminology is a better understanding of how different forms of criminal capital can influence access to institutions like higher education, marriage, and employment during the transition to adulthood. Drawing on insights from distinct bodies of literature on peers, capital, and status attainment, the present study elaborates on the influence of criminal capital for (un)successful transitions to adulthood. Using three waves of data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (“Add Health”), the effects of adolescent criminal social capital on criminal cultural and human capital, and subsequent educational, occupational, and marital attainment in early adulthood are examined. Results from a series of regression models demonstrate that criminal social capital has minimal effects on fatalistic beliefs or thoughtful and reflective decision making, and that these forms of criminal capital generally have inconsistent effects on later life transitions. Implications for theory and future research are discussed.

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  • 2016

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The non-criminal consequences of gang membership: impacts on education and employment in the life-course

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Research on the consequences of gang membership is limited mainly to the study of crime and victimization. This gives the narrow impression that the effects of gang membership do not

Research on the consequences of gang membership is limited mainly to the study of crime and victimization. This gives the narrow impression that the effects of gang membership do not cascade into other life domains. This dissertation conceptualized gang membership as a snare in the life-course that disrupts progression in conventional life domains. National Longitudinal Survey of Youth Cohort of 1997 (NLSY97) data were used to examine the effects of adolescent gang membership on the nature and patterns of educational attainment and employment over a 12-year period in the life-course. Variants of propensity score weighting were used to assess the effects of gang joining on a range of outcomes pertaining to educational attainment and employment. The key findings in this dissertation include: (1) selection adjustments partially or fully confounded the effects of gang joining; despite this (2) gang joiners had 70 percent the odds of earning a high school diploma and 42 percent the odds of earning a 4-year college degree than matched individuals who avoided gangs; (3) at the 11-year mark, the effect of gang joining on educational attainment exceeded one-half year; (4) gang joiners made up for proximate deficits in high school graduation and college matriculation, but gaps in 4-year college degree and overall educational attainment gained throughout the study; (5) gang joiners were less likely to be employed and more likely to not participate in the labor force, and these differences accelerated toward the end of the study; (6) gang joiners spent an additional one-third of a year jobless relative to their matched counterparts; and (7) the cumulative effect of gang joining on annual income exceeded $14,000, which was explained by the patterning of joblessness rather than the quality of jobs. The theoretical and policy implications of these findings, as well as directions for future research, are addressed in the concluding chapter of this dissertation.

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Date Created
  • 2012